Sunday, November 24, 2013

Giving Thanks

This is the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Throughout my life, I have attended Thanksgiving  church services where people get to voice their thanks. When I was a child, we had services on Thanksgiving day and the whole service was centered around people having an opportunity to share what they were thankful for.  No one in my family ever did it. Not because we weren't thankful. We just didn't want to share in front of the whole congregation. There were families who shared EVERY year. I think it made us uncomfortable that they shared their feelings in such a public way. We didn't think it was wrong, but we squirmed a bit when they shared so openly. And, we held our thankfulnesses tightly.

Today, in the church bulletin, I noticed that there would be an opportunity to share thankfulnesses today. I rolled my eyes in discomfort and dug my heels in, prepared to hold onto mine. But people got up and shared beautiful meditations of why they were thankful and how they practice thankfulness -- even in times of difficulty or times when they don't really FEEL thankful.

And, as I sat there, I felt a nudge to get up and share. I tried to map out my little bit of sharing -- how it would sound, what to include, what to leave out, how do I include everything I want to say in just a minute or two at most?

That part of the service was eliminated at the last minute -- probably we ran out of time -- so my little talk that I had planned "on the fly" would not be said.

Until now.

The very first thing that comes to mind when I think of thankfulness (though it is not, by any means, the only thing I'm thankful for) is that Harvey is still alive. Two years ago today, we didn't know how sick he was. December 20, 2011 we found out. It was scary. We had to talk about things with our girls that we didn't want to talk about.  We had to talk to an attorney so we would be prepared for what seemed to be inevitable. We faced (and tried not face) what seemed really ugly news. His diagnosis was stage 4 colon cancer metastatic to the liver. And, the first couple of doctors we saw did not have much hope in their eyes.

Enter the second thing that I'm thankful for: Dr. Lin and research and progress and HOPE. I remember leaving his office feeling hopeful. Hope is something that cancer patients and their families need.  And, he has given us hope throughout the past two years.... And, Harvey is doing pretty well for someone who thought his death was eminent. Hope continues two years later.  

Sometimes, though, I'm so thankful for so much that I don't want to say it out loud. Sometimes it's too sacred. The thankfulness I feel is very deep. It's not something I can describe. It's too big...too special...too important. You know what I mean? It's as if saying it out loud kinda takes away the specialness of it. 

But understand this: I have been and continue to be blessed beyond measure in ways beyond measure throughout my life... I grew up in a family that I treasure. I married into a family that I treasure. I gained a daughter through marriage that I treasure...and God gave me two little girls that I treasure -- all of those people --- more than I will ever be able to let them know.

Thankful. Deeply thankful.

For much.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Full day -- but good.

It's been a full day -- capped off with the Sehome Cross Country banquet! I am so thankful that Sarah and Hannah are a part of that team!!! Seriously. I mean it.  It's been a great thing for them during these past couple of years... (They just finished their THIRD season with the team...and it was a good one!) Sehome has gone to state every year since Sarah and Hannah have been on the team and the whole team has won twice.  Timing is interesting, huh? :-)

Anyway, we got some good news. Harv's CEA is down to 10 from 15. Which means, we believe, that the immune boosters are working.  The CT scan showed very defined borders around the tumors which is a good thing.  The lesions in the liver are showing a 30% reduction in size. The affected lymph nodes also have decreased in size. 

The PET scan was not conclusive, in Dr. Lin's opinion, because it "lit up" in some areas, but he believes that it's because of the GMCSF (immune booster). He says that the real evidence of progress is shown in the CEA count and the size of the tumors...both of which are going down. 

His plan is to have Harv continue with the GMCSF + Avastin (no more 5FU or pump!!! Weeee hawww!) for a couple of more rounds to see if the decrease in both numbers and size continues.

He'll talk with Dr. Park in the meantime and if Dr. Park thinks surgery is a good idea, he won't stand in the way, but he believes, for now, we need to keep building the immune system to keep fighting the tumors.

We left feeling energized, hopeful AND thankful for Dr. Lin.

I am SO thankful that there are people out there who are trying their hardest to develop a way to cure cancer -- specifically Harvey's cancer.

And, once again, I am very thankful for all of you...your prayers, your companionship, your love.

Many blessings to you all!

We had some good news today... Don't have time to give a full report, but things are progressing it seems. Will give a few more details later. Thanks for crossing your fingers (and toes and eyes) and your prayers! Yipppee!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Won't know anything until Tuesday when we meet with Dr. Lin. He's not in until then.

'Preciate your prayers and will update you as soon as we know what's next.

Love you, people!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My brain sometimes is a bit befuddled and I can't remember the sequence of events very well... So, let me just say that over the past week, we have discovered that it MAAAAAAY be possible for Harv to have another liver surgery. We're not sure, but maaaaaaaybe.

So tomorrow, we're going to Seattle so Harv can have CT/PET scans to be sure.  

Now, if the scans look good, then maaaaaaybe Harv can have surgery soon. He just finished a round of chemo which included Avastin so it can't be for at least three weeks, but perhaps before the end of the year. Maybe.

(Over the course of the year, I keep thinking I understand things are gonna happen very soon and then it turns out their "soon" is different than mine. My "soon" is like tomorrow or the next day.)

So, we are hoping that the scans turn out in a very beautiful way.  If you'd like to pray with us, we'll take your prayers. :-)

Thanks so much for loving us. 

Happy weekend to you all!

Monday, November 4, 2013

From this day forward...

I suppose that, even though I knew that we would always be fighting Harv's cancer, I have always kinda continued to hope (and pray) that one day we would be able to have an extended period of time (more than 3 weeks or even 4 weeks) where we DID NOT have to go to the doctor. We're not there yet. And, truthfully, we are both tired of doctors and hospitals and treatments and misbehaving spouses and so forth and so on and what have you....

The other day we met with Dr. Lin. He had Harv do another blood test to check for CEA count. Turns out it was 15.3 a week after it had been 13.2... I don't really think it's in the "alarming" range, but it seems to be increasing rather than decreasing...which I find annoying.

So, today, I got an e-mail from Dr. Lin and he and Dr. Park will discuss possible options....all of which we have known were possibilities. If a miracle doesn't happen between now and the next CT scan, I believe the first choice would be radiation beads given internally and directed RIGHT AT the tumor(s). Then, possibly surgery if the radiation can shrink things enough. If that option, for some reason, isn't feasible, then they'd go for external radiation.

We are approaching the two year mark since diagnosis... TWO YEARS, people!!! On December 20, 2011, Harv was diagnosed with STAGE 4 colon cancer. We didn't know what that was gonna look like, but I think we were all a little afraid that two years was stretchin' it a little bit. But -- we also know that Harv is an overachiever who likes to excel in what he does. He's a goal setter and a person who likes to succeed. 

If you look back over the past two years, you will see some major milestones... His CEA count dropped from 661 at its highest to 1 at its lowest. He hiked all of almost-100 trails of Galbraith Mountain after his colon surgery. ALL of 'em! He also WROTE A BOOK, dammit! A BOOK! THAT GOT PUBLISHED!  He and I were able to take two trips to Hawaii (hopin' for another one :-) ). The family went to the Grand Canyon in 2012 and to the Olympic Penisula twice. 

We have had lots and lots of family togetherness. :-)

The other day a neighbor stopped me in the grocery store to ask how Harvey is doing. I told him pretty much the latest and he said "He looks so GOOD. Every time I see him, he's just BEAMING..." and then he said something like "I think he's gonna be fine." 

And the truth is: I do, too.

But the reality is that we still have work to do... And, as the doctor said, "It's a marathon." (Hey! It just occurred to me that Harvey has actually DONE a marathon before (told you he was a goal-setter!)!!! So, he has what it takes to do another one! But, do I?!) Anyway, we're in the race. We're not giving up. We still have a shot! 

We are praying now for some "easy runs" in this race... :-) Please pray that we can surgically remove the tumor that is the most aggressive. Pray that we will feel a sense of renewal and energy as we continue this crazy marathon.... 

And, please continue to pray for Harv's parents and siblings. Pray for safety for his parents around the house, a spirit of cooperation and behaving for Joe...wisdom for Peggy as she helps Joe... Peace and calm for all of us.

Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for your support over the past couple of years.